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Napa County DUI Process

Napa County DUI Process Attorney

What to Expect When you are Arrested for Drunk Driving in Napa County

Police in the towns of Yountville, St. Helena, Calistoga, and Napa County are known for aggressively pursuing possible impaired drivers. They watch for motorists doing such things as crossing over the double yellow line on the Silverado Trail, making an illegal U-turn in downtown Calistoga, or speeding on Highway 29 after dinner in Yountville. Sometimes they stop drivers just for looking at their cell phone in an effort to find their hotel or B&B. Napa County has one of the highest ratios of DUI arrests to licensed drivers in the entire San Francisco Bay Area. Getting stopped and asked to get out of one's car can be a frightening experience, and even more so if you end up in jail.

The DUI Arrest and Booking

If you were stopped late at night, the investigating officer quite likely presumed you were drinking before he or she even got to your window. They look for things like red eyes, an odor of alcohol, and slurred speech. A tired and nervous person can have all three of these attributes after just one glass of wine, but the police are trained to suspect the worst and ask motorists a series of questions in an evidence collecting manner. Toward that end, they ask questions such as "were you drinking tonight?" and "How much have you had to drink?" They ask people to perform coordination tests on the side of dark roads and to submit to preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test. Officers generally imply that you should take these tests and that refusal to do so may hurt your case.

If the officer believes he or she has probable cause for a DUI arrest, you are brought to the police station, asked to submit to a breath or blood test, and then booked on drunk driving charges. In Napa, the vast majority of DUI arrestees spend at least a day or two in jail before getting release on their promise to appear in Court or by posting bail.

Your DUI arrest results in two separate and simultaneous proceedings:

  • A criminal proceeding for driving under the influence and/or driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above; and
  • A DMV administrative proceeding regarding the suspension or revocation of your driving privileges.

DUI Criminal Proceeding

All criminal proceedings stemming from a DUI arrest in Napa County are handled by the Napa County District Attorney in the Napa County Superior Court, which is located in the city of Napa (the county seat) at 1111 Third Street, 2nd Floor. Your first court appearance is generally for your arraignment. It is highly recommended that you obtain legal counsel in advance of this court date, as counsel can appear for you unless there is a felony charge.

A plea of "not guilty" is normally entered at the arraignment and a pretrial hearing date set about four to eight weeks out. A well-trained DUI defense lawyer may be able to negotiate a reduced charge or have charges dropped altogether. There are several potential weaknesses in the District Attorney's case that may open the door for a reduced charge or dismissal. Examples include lack of probable cause, inaccurate chemical test results, failure to Mirandize, post-driving absorption of alcohol, and many others.

DMV Administrative Proceeding

A DUI arrest usually triggers an administrative suspension of your driver's license by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. For first-time offenders, the length of the suspension is four months. If you refuse a mandatory chemical test, however, it becomes a 12-month suspension. The suspension goes into effect 30 days after your DUI arrest. If you have one or more prior DUI convictions or administrative suspensions within the previous ten years, the length of the driver's license suspension or revocation can be as long as three years.

Important Note: After your arrest, there is an opportunity to avoid or at least delay this license suspension action, but in most circumstances, you only have 10 days to request a DMV hearing to challenge the license suspension or revocation action.

Retain A Board-Certified DUI Defense Attorney

Being pulled over and arrested for DUI in Napa County is a frightening experience. Though you have already spent several hours in jail, you are still facing legal hurdles with potentially significant consequences. You want experienced DUI defense counsel and preferably one who is Board-Certified in DUI Defense as recognized by the American Bar Association. DUI attorney Paul Burglin is one such lawyer (one of only five in California, actually) and he has been representing individuals in Napa County for more than 30 years. He co-authors California Drunk Driving Law, a two-volume legal guide that is commonly referred to as the "Bible of DUI Defense" in California. Because of his extensive experience, in-depth knowledge of the California DUI laws, and proven track record, Attorney Burglin is the one chosen by judges, prosecutors, and DMV officers when someone close to them winds up in legal trouble for DUI.

For a discreet and confidential consultation with attorney Paul Burglin, call 707-320-4007. The office serves clients throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Napa County, including Napa, American Canyon, St. Helena, Calistoga, Yountville, Rutherford, Pope Valley, Deer Park, Oakville, Angwin and surrounding Napa Valley communities.

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